Raise Your Voice! School Board Members and Superintendents Advocate for Public Education at the State Capitol

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, May 3, 2017

More than 165 board members and superintendents from around the state came together Tuesday at the Radisson Hotel in Lansing for the annual MASA/MASB Legislative Conference.

To kick it off, the attendees heard from a legislative panel featuring Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw), Rep. Robert Kosowski (D-Westland), Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair) and Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor). They discussed the current status of the School Aid Budget, Michigan Merit Curriculum, teacher shortages and school starting before Labor Day among other issues. One topic all four legislators agreed on was allowing schools the choice to start before Labor Day. As a legislative priority of MASB, we hope this leads to actual action!

After the panel, attendees participated in two of four different breakout sessions. The sessions included a briefing by the House Fiscal Agency on the three School Aid budget proposals; a presentation on RESTORE, an ACLU initiative to help address bullying and promote tolerance in schools; an update on the education finance study and a new collaborative to do a deeper dive into the issue; and a presentation by the Michigan Education Association on outside forces working to privatize education and the need to work together to combat it.

Finally, Miranda Beard, the National School Boards Association's Immediate Past President, fired up the attendees before sending them off to the Capitol. Miranda joined us from Laurel, Miss., where she serves as President of her local school board. She brought a strong passion and a contagious energy for advocacy on behalf of all students. She spoke about the need for school board members to stand up for public education and make their voices heard. And to the sound of a bugle charge, she had the whole room chanting "fire up, ready to go!"

The motivated advocates hit the Capitol for meetings with their legislators or to watch House session armed with talking points on the budget, MPSERS reform, school start date and substitute teacher qualifications legislation, all of which are currently under discussion in the Legislature. 

While attending the conference is a great way to get prepared for further advocacy, we hope you will continue your advocacy throughout the year. Build relationships with your legislators, respond to calls to action and make your voice heard! If we can ever be of assistance, don't hesitate to ask.

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